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Cablegate: Croatia's Eu Membership Negotiation Preparations

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

171040Z Nov 04

UNCLAS ZAGREB 001988

SIPDIS


SENSITIVE

LABOR FOR DOL/ILAB/OFR

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV ELAB PREL ECON HR
SUBJECT: CROATIA'S EU MEMBERSHIP NEGOTIATION PREPARATIONS
OFF TO SLOW START


SUMMARY AND COMMENT
-------------------
1. (SBU) Despite public statements that Croatia is ready to
start and conclude EU membership negotiations, a lack of
coordination has characterized the beginning of the process.
The GoC has delayed naming its negotiating team until it
receives a date to open negotiations. Though including NGOs
and unions in the negotiating process might help bolster
flagging support for accession, union leaders doubt they will
be welcome as real participants in the negotiating process.
END SUMMARY AND COMMENT

LOTS OF BROTH, NOT ENOUGH COOKS
-------------------------------

2. (SBU) PM Sanader has publicly backed away from early
promises to "catch up" to Romania and Bulgaria, instead
pledging to start negotiations in early 2005 and close all
acquis chapters within two years. Yet despite the PM's
request for a concrete start date at the December 17 EU
Ministerial, a lack of coordination within the GoC on the
negotiating process could lengthen the process. Thus far the
PM has named only the delegation heads -- FM Zuzul and
Minister of European Integration Grabar-Kitarovic.

3. (SBU) According to the MFA, the GoC will delay setting up
the rest of negotiating team until after the December
meeting. There will be a separate negotiating team for each
acquis chapter; the composition of each team will depend on
the acquis chapter, though both the MFA and the Ministry of
European Integration (MEI) will be represented. The MFA will
negotiate the Common Foreign and Security Policy chapter and
share responsibility for the external assistance chapter with
the Ministry of Economy.

LABOR UNIONS HAVE THEIR DOUBTS
------------------------------

4. (SBU) The government has promised to make negotiations a
non-partisan affair including all parties, unions, NGOs, and
companies, but has yet to send out formal invitations.
Croatia's largest labor union, the Federation of Independent
Trade Unions (SSSH), expressed doubts to Emboffs that the
government would seriously welcome their input on negotiating
teams. SSSH is eager and willing to participate in
negotiating teams for acquis chapters that concern labor
issues. Though SSSH strongly supports EU membership, it
fears the GoC will try to close chapters as quickly as
possible rather than negotiate a good deal for Croatia.
(COMMENT: The SSSH may overestimate how much actual
negotiating there will be, to judge from the experience of
recent EU candidate countries similar to Croatia.)

5. (SBU) In exchange for inclusion in the negotiating
process, SSSH is prepared to mobilize its 215,000-member base
in a pro-EU campaign but feels the GoC doesn't take its offer
seriously. As public support for EU membership dips below 50
percent -- and a referendum seems likely -- the GoC knows it
will need to engage the public in the process. Union leaders
and MFA officials agree that a fringe euro-skeptic campaign
has met with some success only because the GoC has yet to
mount a serious pro-EU challenge.
DELAWIE


NNNN

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